Year-In Review: 2018

Russ M
Russ M
Dec 29, 2018 · 30 min read

Launchgarage Innovation Hub is the premiere startup accelerator in the Philippines. Known to many simply as ‘Launchgarage’, our core belief is that the secret to nurturing a vibrant ecosystem is being able to bridge the gap between our founders and potential partners that they can work with along the way.

We accelerate tech startups through deal flow sessions, hands-on inclusive mentorship, various programs, and global network reach. We’re more than happy to share that we’ve made significant progress in 2018 by setting up the foundation for even bigger plans coming next year.

As a more comprehensive follow-up of sorts to our previous write-up earlier this year, Innovation-Focused Development: Ushering In a New Era of Philippine Entrepreneurship , we’re officially releasing this public report to show just how far we’ve come since then, how much more diverse our ecosystem is and most importantly, how well our Startup Founders have done.

We’re itching to share the monumental growth that each of our startups boast, the contracts they’ve signed, the impact-based programs we’ve conducted with them, the communities we’ve built from the ground up with their help and the achievements we’ve attained collectively as an organization which would not have been possible without the help of our industry partners in various sectors.

Strategic Investor Partners

This year, Launchgarage has worked with seven additional strategic investor partners that we provide a pipeline of deal flow sessions to. We’d like to acknowledge the following for engaging with us in some form, be it an event, a Supercollider or a deal flow session.

A Supercollider is an invite-only event where investors, corporate partners, and Launchgarage founders (called Garageheads) gather to collaborate for future partnerships, piloting and/or investment deals. We invite international companies and investors not just from the Philippines, but also from Silicon Valley and Southeast Asia. With the goal of providing an avenue to seek investment for entrepreneurs, this event is held only a certain number of times every year and as such, we carefully select which startups are given the opportunity to pitch.

With over 30 startups under the portfolio, we are constantly creating value that will further drive both impact and traction of these startups as these said startups are currently advancing in different verticals that focus on technology. Some of the verticals that they are thriving in are: Mobility, HealthTech, Logistics, Fintech, DeepTech, Big Data Analytics and more.

One of the main roadblocks that founders encounter is finding the right investors and strategic partners for their startups. With the help of these sessions, we manage to bridge the gap between founders and investors. It’s not just a matter of connecting investors to startups but also a matter of introducing the right investor to the right startup. This is the exact reason why we carefully curate and don’t just funnel any investors to our startups. We connect the right people to each other to build synergy. We branded our deal-flow sessions as such because when we’re match the right startup to the right investor, something phenomenal occurs, just like its namesake — a Supercollider.

This year, we’ve partnered up with the likes of Global Dominion Financing Inc (GDFI), AsiaLink Finance, Manila Angel Investors’ Network (MAIN), Unilab Foundation Inc, Infocom Japan, Singularity University, SeedIn Philippines, and Wavemaker Partners to mediate quality deal flow sessions between them and startups in our portfolio.

The Launchgarage Community

Community is of the essence and is often considered the very core of an active and vibrant ecosystem. It fuels the common vision, provides an avenue for like-minded individuals to collaborate and serves as a career stepping stone for entrepreneurs, professionals and hobbyists alike. We’ve done over 30 events in the space in 2018 and partnered up with various organizations to do more than 15 events outside of Launchgarage. Here are some notable highlights:

Global Accelerator Program 2018 Roadshow: MaGIC

The largest startup accelerator in Southeast Asia held their roadshow at our space looking for startups to join their next cohort. An evolution of five successful regional accelerators by Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), the Global Accelerator Programme (GAP) focuses on supporting and developing local and global startups. Through the 4-month programme, GAP aims to prepare startups with the knowledge and network to scale successfully in ASEAN.

Startup Legal Management Series

Working on your own entity also entails more responsibility, and none more so should be given utmost priority than the legal and regulatory side of any business. In the Startup Legal Management series, we invite experts in the field to provide insights on various legal aspects and components, ranging from working on Founders’ agreements, fundraising options, valuation, term sheet negotiation, expansion, all the way to more individual-focused counsel for our portfolio founders through our mentor network program.

This year we partnered up with the likes of EnterPH, Abelaw Manila and Meer&Meer Law to provide timely insights to entrepreneurs in the Philippines.

Design Thinking Workshop Series With On-Off Group

Design Thinking is a problem-solving framework that uses empathy and rapid ideation to create solutions that are concerned with putting the customers first.⁣ On-off group is one of the most prominent companies in this department, hosting different variations of their Design Thinking sprints and workshops for different market segments, fully customized and tailored to the needs of their clients.

We teamed up with CEO Phil Smithson and co. this year to conduct a total of 4 different Design Thinking workshops; one for portfolio company Acudeen’s employees, one for our Founders and two independent workshops: Sales & Marketing as well as Innovative Thinking for Educators.

Women In Tech: WiTalks

WiTech is a community organization geared towards closing the gender gap in tech by promoting and celebrating women in technology. They host a monthly session called WiTalks, which is a series of talks that center around women using tech to achieve United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Launchgarage is a proud partner and host of this group, as we believe that grassroots innovation starts at a very young age. They’ve done an amazing job at helping promote the culture of hustle and innovation not only to women, but as representatives of the entire population of young and aspiring future entrepreneurs in the Philippines.

SIRIB Innovation Tour and Workshop

Saint Louis University Incubator for Research, Innovation and Business (SIRIB) is a young, university-based Innovation Hub and FabLab, currently supported by the CHED IDIG Grant for Technopreneurship Hubs.

Delegates from the hub visited our space as part of the DOST HERIT Program together with UP Enterprise last summer, and followed up with an exclusive workshop later in the year. Their faculty was introduced to various concepts and entrepreneurial fundamentals, including lectures about the Philippine ecosystem, the 4th industrial revolution and digitization — the revolution that’s sweeping across traditional products and services.

La Salle Green Hills Career Visit — Tech & Innovation

A grassroots innovation engagement in its own right, STEM strand students from La Salle Green Hills Senior High School stopped by our space to get an overview and introduction of the startup space. The team gave them a short lecture followed by a Q&A and a tour of the space, presenting the possible opportunities that they may explore should they choose the startup industry, as well as a peek of the unique culture that goes on at Launchgarage.

How To Raise Effective Capital

In one of our earlier events of the year, we collaborated with InnoVen Capital, a regional venture lending platform, Launchgarage hosted a panel discussion which saw Jay Fajardo, Original Pitch VC Partner Francis Simisim and InnoVen’s Managing Partner Chin Chao discuss how entrepreneurs in the Philippines can raise capital the right way for their ventures.

Alibaba eFounders Meetup

The Alibaba eFounders Fellowship is a program initiative by UNCTAD and Jack Ma himself, held in the Alibaba Training Center in Hangzhou, China which lasted for eleven days. The program seeks to equip qualified entrepreneurs in the region with the tools needed to succeed in today’s digitally driven market.

Our portfolio founders Abbie Victorino of StyleGenie PH, Andrew Cua of Tralulu and Magellan Fetalino of Acudeen Technologies were among the chosen few to be part of its first cohort. A sharing session was organized at the Launchgarage space, with key takeaways from the program, impactful learnings and other useful information being distributed to the attendees.

Plug & Play x Launchgarage Accelerator Roadshow

Plug And Play Tech Center, more commonly referred to as P&P is one of the world’s earliest and largest accelerators, with presence during the early days of today’s renowned giants such as Google, Dropbox, Paypal, SoundHound and more. Launchgarage is a direct partner and a sister company of sorts, by virtue of COO Jojo Flores also being a Co-Founder of P&P.

We hosted Ventures Manager Jie Lun Ong at our space for their seasonal Accelerator Program roadshow, which attracted many established entrepreneurs as well as aspiring individuals in the tech scene in the Philippines.

AI Nights by Indigo Research

AI Nights is a recurring event at Launchgarage hosted by our portfolio company Indigo Research, an applied AI research company that currently works on natural language processing, artificial intelligence, education technology, and computer vision.

The goal of AI Nights is to bring together enthusiasts, hobbyists, professionals and educators alike in one space to discuss the current and future applications of various Artificial Intelligence Stacks including but not limited to: Deep-learning & Machine Learning, Applied Data Science, NLP, AI in Design and more. Each event has its own theme and its own unique set of speakers, which brings new flavor and keeps the people coming back every single time.

#Geeks4Good Meetups

#Geeks4Good is a group of hackers, makers, tinkerers and thinkers who gather to discuss ways to use technology for a positive social impact. Meetups are held at Launchgarage once a month, with different speakers presenting their projects having peculiar use cases that are for-fun, for social good or just for plain-old geeking out. The community also frequently partners up with various orphanages and conducts Raspberry Pi training workshops, giving access to pieces of technology that these kids wouldn’t otherwise have in the hopes of inspiring them to find problems and be able to solve them on their own.

The #Geeks4Good Community also hosted the first-ever Raspberry Pi Jam in Manila, six years since the inception of the credit-card sized computer and its release in the market, that which changed the maker landscape forever.

AWS Office Hours 2018

AWS is a subsidiary product of Amazon which provides an array of cloud-computing services for individuals, companies and governments on a paid subscription basis and is the service of choice for globally recognized brands like NASA, Samsung, Nokia and platforms like Netflix, Slack and Expedia.

As part of an ongoing partnership with the AWS SEA and AWS Philippines teams, Launchgarage hosted an Office Hours session, a whole-day consulting opportunity for companies who want to utilize the AWS Infrastructure. A team of certified solutions architects were on deck to help provide bits of their expertise to the participants of the fully-booked event.

Holochain Philippines: Beyond The Blocks

Holochain is a never-before-seen framework that relies on nodes in a distributed computing network to host various decentralized applications. Vastly different from any other Blockchain or Cryptocurrency-based project out there, the Holo team envisions a new internet, one that is truly decentralized and one that is run by the people and no one else.

The first meetup saw Cryptocurrency Philippines Founder and AOCP Managing Partner Carlo Cojuangco introducing the basic concepts of the Holochain framework to the participants while PH Community Lead Russ Malangen took the time to explain the technical side of things. Holochain Philippines is expected to host a Hackathon in the first quarter of 2019 and a series of meetups before that to help the community grow organically.

EXPAND Philippines

EXPAND is a structured accelerator program tailored for tech startups, providing them with opportunities to connect with decision makers, influencers, investors and potential collaborators. Through this program, Malaysian companies are eased into the Philippine Market with various lectures, mentors, and an on-site immersion in the Philippines during the final stretch.

As champions of collaboration, Launchgarage and MDEC launched Expand PH to further strengthen the synergy between the startups in the Philippines and Malaysia. Launchgarage packed the 4-week program with webinars, meetings with expansion partners, investors, and mentors, that are essential to the startups’ entry in the Philippine market. The program culminated in a Demo Day held last May 2018.

EXPAND Philippines Demo Day 2018

Media Coverage:

ASEAN HR Tech Venture Summit 2018

Co-organized by one of our very own portfolio company founders at Diplomazee, Gelo Valdez, the ASEAN HR Tech Venture Summit was a regional event that gathered high level executives, HR head honchos of internationally recognized companies and various speakers with the agenda of shedding light on how the digital transformation initiative is disrupting the Human Resource Industry in the ASEAN region. The event was a huge success, with about 2,000 attendees over the course of two days at Shangri-la The Fort last October 18–19.

Media Coverage:

Future City Summit 2018

Future City Summit is an international curation, annual convention and exhibition of top notch talents and young leaders who pledge to enter the grid of future, to build smarter and better cities. This year, in partnership it was hosted in 3 major cities: Guangzhou, Foshan and Hong Kong.

Launchgarage had a very active participation in this conference, as CEO Jay Fajardo participated in a panel discussion with Hong Kong Tatler Generation T Listers Tony Verb and Peggy Choi to discuss the future of cities in the eyes of seasoned entrepreneurs:

“ To succeed, you dig deep into your passion for your product. Plus, successful entrepreneurs have that DNA where you’re belligerent. You have to be belligerent, otherwise you’d give up at the first sign of a negative comment. Balancing it out though is the ability to discern useful critique.” — Jay Fajardo

More details about the panel discussion can be found here:

The hackathon portion of the conference, labelled the City Design Jam was lead by Ventures Manager Abe Lozada. The goal was to develop a city scenario given various factors that enabled each team to come up with unique visions for what they would call the “Cities of Tomorrow”. Eight impactful, concise and potentially useful research papers were generated over the course of three days using the innovative hackathon architecture that was developed.

GAX Program & Community Manager Russ Malangen also chimed in during an exclusive Roundtable Discussion Session at Cyberport, Hong Kong for the Emerging Future Cities Network, introducing Launchgarage’s services, initiatives and ongoing activities in the technology space in the Philippines:

General Manager, Lance Pormarejo signed the MOU along with other regional partners in the Emerging Future Cities Network to formalize the partnership with key figures on the third day of the conference at Remix Lab in Guangzhou.

A separate MOU was signed with Gungho Space and E-Cell, incubation hubs located in China and India respectively as part of the Global Accelerator Exchange (GAX). More details can be found in the link below:

Blogapalooza 2018: ConnecteD

Photo Courtesy of the Experience Negros Blog:

Blogapalooza, in its 7th year of operations has grown tremendously. With current CEO #BlogaMomma Ace Gapuz at the helm, the company joined the Launchgarage portfolio in 2017.

They recently hosted ConnecteD, their annual event which gathers businesses and bloggers, or more commonly referred to by their community as influencers together in one venue. This is an avenue for them to build relationships, seek out the right influencers for various proucts and for influencers to get an overview of what’s new in the space. They had various talks, networking opportunities, a trade show, a digital entertainment section that went on during the festivities at City of Dreams Manila.

ConnecteD at City of Dreams, Manila, Philippines

Event Blogs From The Blogapalooza Community:

How Our Portfolio Companies Are Doing

This year has been a good one. For the past 12 months, we’ve managed to bring on board a total of 17 new startups and increased our total portfolio count to 36 different companies in various verticals. Some have grown steadily over the past few months and some have skyrocketed their business to astronomical proportions — quite literally. Don’t believe us? Check out some of the things our startups have accomplished:

MiCab Makes Strides In The TNC Space

Photo Courtesy of

MiCab is one of the biggest additions of the year to the portfolio. From a Startup Weekend idea turned ride sharing juggernaut in just the span of a year, CEO Eddie Ybañez says that this is only the beginning.

MiCab isn’t your typical ride hailing app, as they completely re-invent the business model by not relying on surges and booking fees to generate profit as a company. Instead, they’ve disrupted the disruptors by innovating and focusing on an ad-centric business model which incurs minimal costs for drivers to operate under their platform and brings even more delight to consumers as they only have to pay what the cab meter fare dictates. This is a cheaper option for those who think that its competitor Grab is a bit too pricey but also much safer than a taxi being called by normal means as the platform offers access to information about the driver, their unit and your current location should there by any emergency, providing an all-around safer experience for drivers and riders alike in the busy streets of Metro Manila and the bustling city of Cebu.

StyleGenie Continues To Flourish in 2018

Launched in 2016, StyleGenie has made steady progress throughout the years with its influential founder Abbie Victorino calling the shots. The platform allows you to discover your true personal style via expertly-curated boxes of clothes & accessories with just a few clicks.

Abbie and company onboarded in early 2018, originally being part of the IdeaSpace Accelerator cohort a few years prior. This year they’ve expanded their operations and have partnered with over 50 brands to deliver the newest, most stylish articles of clothing straight to your doorstep.

Ball Club PH Launches Digital Platform

Pulling crossovers like Allen Iverson, shooting fadeaways like Kobe Bryant or putting up monster stat lines like Lebron James has been the dream of every Filipino boy at one point in their lives — — and it still is for many.

Founded by Paolo Engracia, an alumnus of both AHS and ADMU, his fiery passion for the sport of basketball brought forth the concept of Ball Club, a service which allows you to hire professional, FIBA-accredited referees, your own statistics men and permanently recorded data on the Ball Club platform. You can view your points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks for every game that you play and also on average. With all the arguments about which player is better happening through stats all the time, why don’t we just compare ourselves? Really, who doesn’t love that idea?

Believe it or not, Ball Club was initially just a Facebook community comprised of various friends, and statistics were recorded on an excel sheet. Recently, they launched the platform and now you can brag about the 35 points you scored the other day against your biggest rivals to all of your friends!

Social Light Inc. Raises $470K from Cerebro Labs

Social Light Inc. is one of Launchgarage’s elder statesmen. Its CEO, Francis Simisim is one of the most recognizable names in the industry in the Philippines, being a founder of multiple ventures; most notably Blogapalooza and WhenInManila.

Their main product, Vayafi, is a digital advertising platform built to maximize revenue of advertisers and venues. Its main goal is to generate leads, analytics and new revenue while driving consumer engagement. Aside from Vayafi, SLI has also worked on multiple software based enterprise-grade products. In July of 2018, they managed to raise a $470K bridge round from our partner hub Cerebro Labs. Raises $500,000 For Company Expansion is under the leadership of consummate professionals Josephine Romero and Dominick Danao. They describe their startup as the ‘Swiss Army Knife for Digital Payments’, offering a spectrum of solutions that solve various problems that companies face. They recently raised a $500k bridge round with Cerebro Labs and are expected to expand their services in the region and further grow the company within the next few months as one of Launchgarage’s top performers.

Acudeen Expands Services Throughout APAC

Acudeen Technologies has been on a roll as of late, managing to raise a whopping $35,000,000 from their Public Token Sale back in June 2018. Their new product, AssetChain, seeks to import their marketplace for movable assets to the blockchain in order to cater to a wider market.

They’ve forged partnerships with Unionbank under the GlobalLinker program, OpenPort Logistics for blockchain invoice financing and with IBM Singapore to co-develop the AssetChain Network and have experienced continued success in their local operations, totalling over $11.2 million worth of financed invoices.

Aside from this, they’ve managed to expand their services to another emerging market in Myanmar under the KyoPay brand:

ServeHappy Jobs Joins SeedStars Summit 2018

ServeHappyJobs helps service businesses with their HR pain points by leveraging smart bots in social media and messaging technologies to reach the 51M Filipinos on Facebook. Fresh off of winning Techtonic Summit’s pitch competition last year as well as the regional leg of SeedStars Asia, ServeHappy Jobs is already one of the most competitive and popular platforms in the ever growing human resource space. They’ve raised an undisclosed amount earlier this year to expand operations and to extend their array of services to a wider market.

CEO Audrey Uy participated in behalf of the company at the Seedstars World Summit this year in Switzerland as a finalist.

Veer Immersive Technologies Partners With Philippine Airlines

Veer came into 2018 as one of the hottest commercial companies under the Launchgarage portfolio. They offer an extensive array of products catered to various markets under the leadership of former Microsoft Philippines Student Partners Program Lead Justin Lim and VR Philippines founder Cristopher David.

Their flagship product was developed in partnership with Philippine Airlines, a simulated cabin crew training program which allows the airline to cut down on costs and join the future sooner rather than later.

Mober Partners With SM Retail For Big Item Logistics

Mober is our platform of choice for moving our big appliances and furniture around. It’s the first-ever tech startup that offers an on-demand platform for same-day delivery service in the Philippines that connects SMEs, shoppers, and starting families with a cost-effective, safe and fast logistical service.

They’ve worked with several big brands already but most notably with SM Retail, with a deal that put them on the map and firmly at the top of the food chain in the logistics space. They’ve raised an undisclosed amount earlier this year to bolster their services and to add more delivery trucks for use. Definitely an exciting 2019 ahead for the Mober team!

The Emergence of Blockchain Startups In The PH

Last year’s crypto craze saw the emergence of the world’s fastest and most funded (but not necessarily successful) startups coming not from banks, not from investors, and not from VC’s but from everyday citizens — crowdfunding as they like to call it. The Initial Coin Offering (ICO) model was a wildly popular way for companies utilizing blockchain technology to raise funds in a non-traditional fashion. They primarily use large crowdfunding campaigns to sell their coins or tokens — an integral piece of their ecosystem used to drive its macroeconomy — — and for a time, everyone was accumulating tokens, no matter how good (or bad) the project was.

In light of this, given the combined experience of our administration, we decided to put up a Blockchain Advisory department, exclusive for companies who are working in this space. We’ve seen and heard a lot of pitches, but we were very careful and selective in our deliberation process to ensure that we only work with companies that meet our above-average criteria. The deal we have with these organizations differs from our typical arrangement with startups in the sense that our ask is not in equity, but in tokens.

AQWire: Cross-border Real Estate Transactions

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One of our blockchain advisory company founders is Ray Refundo of AQWire, a global property marketplace that’s powered by parameter-based chunks of code that can essentially act on its own once certain conditions are met — — more simply known as smart contracts.

AssetChain: Decentralized Ecosystem For Movable Assets

By using a proven model of a hybrid buyer and supplier-led financing system and improving on it by way of adopting new technology, the outlook on financial inclusion with Acudeen’s project is highly encouraging. Blockchain technology has had numerous use cases over the past year and has soared in popularity as a result, albeit only very few actually leverage its potential for something equally as disruptive as changing the fintech industry overall.

They recently concluded their $35,000,000 Public Token Sale in June 2018 and are currently listed on two exchanges: BTCEXA and CCX.

BloomX (BX8): Transforming Money Service Businesses With Cryptocurrencies

Bloom Technologies was founded in October 2015. It powered its first commercial transaction in January of the following year, and has since enabled over US$125,000,000 in remittance volume through its network.

The Bloom network currently provides remittance businesses and fintech startups alike with homogenous, real-time API access to disburse via 39 banks and cash delivery providers in the Philippines, and 135 banks and payout channels in Vietnam.

BX8 is a new product that works with money service businesses to help make cryptocurrency accessible to everyone through OTC exchanges for even the smallest amounts of money, allowing them to widen their avenues for new lines of business, becoming more competitive than ever. The ecosystem they’re building is quite interesting, as not only does it allow you to exchange your fiat money for crypto, but the platform also gives you access to a variety of services such as paying bills, distributing payroll and performing KYC or Know-Your-Customer checks.

As of writing, BloomX has successfully completed its $19.8M Token Sale and has begun to distribute the BX8 tokens to its contributors.

What Can You Expect From Us This 2019?

2019 is going to be a pivotal year for us. Aside from our existing value-add services for entrepreneurs, we’re sprucing things up by running various programs and community-powered events for the new year.

Expand PH Cohort 2

After a successful first run of the first ever EXPAND Philippines Accelerator, we’re going to re-launch the program under the same name this coming year for our second cohort. This time we’re going to be more vertical-focused, taking in startups in the e-commerce and fintech space to bring more competitiveness to the scene.

Global Accelerator Exchange

Image result for launchgarage

We’re in the process of organizing at least two accelerator programs in partnership with other hubs all over the world. The GAX program includes international hackathons, access to international conferences and exclusivity to our founders who wish to participate in accelerators worldwide.

Launchgarage Energy Jam

One of the most prevalent, yet often overlooked sectors in the Philippines is Energy. Providing cheap, clean and efficient power to the public has always been an issue and there’s little innovation in that field as of the moment in the Philippines. The hackathon we’re organizing seeks to bring together the region’s key figures, entrepreneurs, investors, accelerators and individuals in a 2-day event which will feature talks, workshops, hands-on mentoring and a pre-hackathon bootcamp series.

PPP Event With Future City Summit

The Future City Summit PPP Program series is an avenue for government and private institutions to collaborate depending on certain themes. The first of its kind will be held in Bali, Indonesia this January focusing on the tourism industry, while the Manila program will be done in May with Launchgarage as its primary partner.

Holochain PH Hackathon

Another hackathon we’re excited about is the Holochain Philippines design hackathon. With Launchgarage leading the PH community, the stage is set for developers to come together to collaborate on building the most innovative, intuitive distributed computing architectures within a 2-day span a-la Startup Weekend format.

Under the Academic Partnerships department, we recently signed an MOU with the Department of Science and Technology’s Innovation Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technologies (DOST-PCIEERD) that effectively enables us to oversee various Technology-Business Incubators (TBI) across the Philippines at different stages. We’ll help incubators grow, provide resources for their students to utilize and the opportunity for their well-developed companies to onboard our own portfolio.

On a separate note, one of our most recent industry-academe collaboration setups is with Animo Labs, the official incubator of De La Salle University in Manila. Launchgarage acts as an advisor, sharing our team’s unique insights, ecosystem know-how and technical expertise with the competent and equally passionate Animo Labs team.

We’ve also been engaging constantly with NEXUS Innovation Labs under De La Salle — Lipa in Batangas. We’ve got workshops, hackathons, mentoring sessions and an incubation program lined up with them as partners. We also held a recently concluded Technology Showcase Roadshow with them last October.

In line with the activities mentioned above, as we’re beginning to expand our operations outside of Startup Acceleration, we established the Launchgarage Mentor Network, comprised of well-known, successful figures in the industry across APAC. Some of which include: RJ David of OLX, Ibba Bernardo of iamcardboard, Arnold Baggabaldo of PacketWorx, Christian Blanquera of Sterling Technologies & Monico, Allan Tan of Founder Institute PH, Patrick Palacios of Appsolutely/LoyalCoin, Jun Lozada of Galileo Software Services and many more. The mentor network is a vital component of Launchgarage, as it helps provide our founders with outside resources, varying perspectives and sound guidance from individuals who have seen and done it all. They’ll be around to help out in our programs, events and other engagements for the next few years.

Owing it to our long-running Corporate Innovation partnership with Unilab Philippines, we’ve ran a total of three different technology-focused Proof-of-Concept building sessions with them this year to support their internal company-wide Innovation Lab capacity building efforts, ranging from 3D printers, AR/VR tech and Voice Assistance Modules. Apart from this, we held two separate Supercolliders with them, highlighting our health-tech related portfolio companies for future collaborations and investments.

Launchgarage also hosted an activity with FWD Insurance Corporation through our Startup Innovation Crawl lead by Tralulu. During this tour, executives of the company were given a complete overview of the innovation ecosystem as seen through our eyes, as well as the eyes of our beloved mentors and founders. Our partners from FWD were able to pay a visit to Launchgarage, Packetworx and Acudeen all in the same day which had effectively granted them the renewed vigor and optimism needed to continuously push for innovation within their own ranks.

Under our Global Accelerator Exchange (GAX) Program, we recently collaborated with SSMediaLabs to host one of their fellows at our space for an entire month.

The Step Up South-South Media Labs Collaboration 2018 is a program designed to introduce new formats of collaboration between media centres and media professionals in East-Africa and South-East Asia. Organized by icebauhaus in close cooperation with iceaddis, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and common room, Bandung , Indonesia. This initiative aims to promote constructive and peaceful media work and discourse by having a Partner Participant develop a prototype of their project in a month long collaboration and in-residence program with a partnered Host Organization.

The Partner Participant for this program is Victor Nyang’a. He is a hardware and embedded systems engineer from Tanzania with 17 years of experience in the electronics and mechatronics industry. He founded his own Startup hardware house, Victronix, which is an electronics servicing company bringing in solutions for Custom Electronics Development, Hardware & Embedded Systems Development, M2M Solutions, and Training support. Its target market includes manufacturers, students, and hobbyists in the field of electronics.

The hardware system developed by Victor is responsible for collecting data from different sensors connected to it and send the data to an online database. He managed to build and test a prototype of the hardware on site during his 1-month residency at the space.

ASEAN Ricebowl Startup Awards 2018

The ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup Awards (Rice Bowl), organized by New Entrepreneurs Foundation, celebrates the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Southeast Asian startup ecosystem.

The Awards reward innovation, excellence, and best practice in startups across the region. It also recognizes the excitement, risk and hard-work involved in developing a startup and the influence each person has on driving the success of their company.

Rice Bowl puts the spotlight on model entrepreneurship and inspires a dynamic community of startup enthusiasts, serial entrepreneurs, policy makers and diverse mentors in tech innovation.

This year, we’d like to congratulate the following startups for their awards:

StyleGenie: Best E-Commerce Startup

Blogapalooza: Best Digital Marketing Startup

Taxumo: Best Newcomer, Best Fintech Startup and Best Business Automation Tool Startup

Launchgarage: Best Accelerator Program


Our goal isn’t just to help our startup founders grow their businesses, but to evolve each step of the way with them. The Launchgarage team seeks to soar to even greater heights in 2019; equipped with the right tools to put the Philippines on the map in the field of technology and innovation.

This time around, we’re loaded with key strategic partnerships that will help us make that thrust. The three-way deal between the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and their willingness to collaborate with private entities such as ours grants us the ability to have an optimistic outlook on the future of startups in the country and beyond. Our international accelerator/incubator partners are also set to take in any of our companies that are going into regional expansion, ensuring that we have eyes, ears and hands wherever they may choose to go. We’ve laid out important foundations for our upcoming engagements with universities as well and we expect them to integrate with the existing community and eventually branch off to create their own inclusive ecosystems within their circles.

Replicating what Silicon Valley has done is not the goal, but it’s a good model to follow until such time that we discover various intricacies that make us differ from their system. 2018 was a year for just that, as we’re now entering the most exciting phase of cultivating the culture of innovation: Execution.

With this, our fearless forecast for the coming year is that it’s ‘Go big or go home’ time for some of the companies that have been working relentlessly over the past few years, and while some may not be up to the task, we truly believe that with the right attitude, the right people and the right resources, success is within their grasp. The journey is different for everyone, but the outcome we all have in mind is the same. Thus, it’s important to note that as we continue tread the waters, we have some takeaways that could be of use for our readers:

  1. Mistakes are a given. Failure is our teacher, but don’t use it as an excuse not to perform up to par.
  2. Success varies in definition, but there are three constant factors present in those who are able achieve such: Luck, Timing and Execution.
  3. Speed is the name of the game. The reality is that with the abundance of knowledge readily available on the internet, any model and any product is easily replaced or disrupted — and it happens quite constantly. You need to move fast, close deals fast and if it’s taking too long, then you might want to find ways to ramp things up (or find something else to do).
  4. What can’t be replicated, however, is your brand — the quality of your product/service, the relationships you have with your consumers and the ability to take constructive criticisms and filter out the noise.
  5. Startups — while the success stories are inspiring, are far from stable. Most seasoned entrepreneurs would agree. For every one or two people you hear of that carved their own path and went from zero to one, there are at least thousands of other people who have failed and ran out of options. If failure isn’t an option for you in terms of time invested and financially speaking, then take the time to map out and consider what steps you can take so you can pinpoint what your point of critical mass is when you have to start showing results. It makes the process much easier and less unexpected as an entrepreneur. It’s vital to plan things ahead and add some room for any sudden adjustments that need to be made.


Launchgarage was built on a philosophy of innovation from the grassroots and the spirit of open collaboration.

Thanks to Lance Uriel

Russ M

Written by

Russ M

Launchgarage |


Launchgarage was built on a philosophy of innovation from the grassroots and the spirit of open collaboration.

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